Portland, United States – Protesters in Portland who have staged days of rallies following Donald Trump’s shock election victory say they must build a strong grassroots resistance movement to survive his presidency.
“I’m devastated by what has happened,” said Cindy Quale, who attended Friday’s rally at Portland’s City Hall. “There’ll be horrible things happening because of the election.”
His election stunned many Americans, especially those who supported the social justice progress made under Democrat President Barack Obama over the past eight years.
Protests erupted on Wednesday in Portland and other cities across the US, including New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle following Trump’s election as the 45th US president.
Portland activists said they had to act now to voice their opposition to the types of harmful policies Trump talked about during the often nasty campaign.
“Donald Trump is going to help ruin America … simply I’m not okay with that – my family is Mexican,” said a protester named Lillith, who declined to give her last name.
“The system clearly isn’t working and we need to start something different,” Lillith said as she held a sign saying: “#NoMorePresident”.
Friday’s protests began with a “heal-in” of hundreds organised by “Portland’s Resistance” – a group formed after the Republican leader’s victory.
“Last night, in the ongoing wake of Portlanders’ desperate attempts to understand their new reality under a Trump regime, a movement was born – one that we hope will help to elevate Portland as a bastion for peace, refuge, sustainability and social innovation for years to come,” the group said in a press release.
Demonstrators said they planned to take a break from marching after violence broke out in Thursday’s rally, following which local police asked protesters to stay home. One person survived a gunshot wound, dozens were arrested, and property was damaged as police clashed with some protesters.
The organisers disavowed the violence by a section of the protesters. But at the same time, quoting Martin Luther King Jr, said, “Riots are the language of the unheard.”
Heal-in is Portland’s Resistance’s new tool of protest that involves diologue and sharing of ideas on a diverse range of issues such as race and police violence.
“In order to survive president Trump, there needs to be a strong resistance,” the group said.
About 200 people joined the heal-in, where they broke off into several circles to allow people to speak about their ideas for making Portland a better city, and to discuss their campaign to repair damage done in Thursday’s demonstration.
Speakers talked about the threat Trump’s campaign promises posed to them and their families. From police violence to racist policies Trump campaigned on, activists said they needed to mobilise.
One speaker brought up police violence and the role that racism plays in it. At the end of her speech, she shouted “I hate racism!” with the crowd repeating the words.
A protester named Meera, who declined to give her last name, said she came out in support of her family.
Don Waggoner, another protester at the heal-in, said: “I’m here to oppose fascism.”
“The idea that American citizens would have to carry special ID’s is textbook fascism. We have to do something otherwise we’ll all end up in a cell,” Waggoner said.
As activists continued to discuss ideas on how to oppose impending racist policies, hundreds more protesters gradually joined them.
Many had handkerchiefs over their faces and some held shields in anticipation of clashes with police.
As they began their march, appeals to remain peaceful were blarred out of loudspeakers.
Police had lined up a block away and informed protesters to stay on the authorised route. One demonstrator with his face covered walked towards the police line alone, with two middle fingers up in the air.
As the police message repeated, protesters began shouting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”
People marched carrying posters with the anarchist symbol, while a protester threw a Molotov cocktail. The march eventually broke into different groups, with one splinter group vandalising parts of the city and another disrupting traffic.
Police used flash bangs and tear gas on Friday against protesters who didn’t follow the authorised march route. One was shot by an unknown assailant near the Morrison bridge.
“It’s cause and effect,” said protester Waggoner.
An activist named Jessie, who declined to give his surname, said he thought the protests would continue for at least a week.
“It could even start something bigger, like World War III or a civil war,” Jessie said, holding a shield.